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Many African states especially those prone to droughts and famine should embrace drought resistant crops to avert food shortage. They can actually save lives.
This will not only increase yields but also boost in production of staple food should African governments be serious in supplying farmers in Arid and semi arid areas with free Sorghum and millet seeds. This issues would be a thing of the past especially in this era of prevailing climate- change conditions.
Recurring droughts have envisaged a need to diversify planting of foods that can resist these phenomena both large scale and at small-scale intensity.
on the other hand, this will also reduce dependency on foreign aid and donations, as well as loans from the International Monetary Fund.
Currently, the African Development Bank is supporting irrigation projects spanning millions of dollars, thus it would be sufficient for African Governments to team up with farmers in prone areas to yield food-full results.
In Kenya, the project with funds from ADB is yielding positive results in some parts of the country like Machakos thus farmers have recorded a boost in food productions.
Sorghum is Africa’s oldest food crop. It is often referred to as the continent’s food for the poor. Sorghum is not only drought resistant; it is also adaptable to most climatic zones and soils.
Unlike other cereal crops such as maize and wheat. The high concentration of potassium and starch in sorghum, its less acidifying effect and the fact that it is easily absorbed and well-tolerated makes it ideal food for those who are sick, diabetics, adults and children.
To get a good yield, farmers should buy seed varieties suitable to their climatic zones. They can get advice from agricultural research station or extension personnel near them.
Cassava is an important food crop which produces tubers between 6 months and 3 years depending on the variety. It has the ability to withstand poor environmental conditions such as low rainfall and infertile soils. Cassava is a major source of carbohydrates for poor families because of its high starch content.
It can grow well with little management, a reason why it becomes the main source of food in times of war or natural calamities. Its leaves can also be eaten as a green vegetable. In some African countries, cassava flour has replaced wheat in making bread. Cassava Mosaic Disease outbreaks in 1994/95 threatened cassava production in the country but new varieties resistant to the disease have now been developed.
Pigeon peas are a nutritious leguminous plant whose ripe seeds are made into flour while the green seeds can be used as a vegetable. The plant is drought resistant and grows well in dry areas with as little as 650 mm of rainfall. It can produce up to 8 bags per acre. New varieties that mature in 4 months have been developed. In Kenya, the International Research Institute has developed four of the new varieties for Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).
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